The Australian law that makes it mandatory for companies like Google and Facebook to pay for news they use is ready to be enforced. Australia’s Parliament has passed the final amendments to the News Media Bargaining Code, and according to AP, they were changes agreed upon by the country’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
If you’ll recall, Facebook blocked publishers and users from sharing news links in Australia in response to the proposed law. The social network also mistakenly prevented government agencies and non-profits from posting on their Pages in the process, but it reversed their ban a few hours later. Days later, Facebook agreed to talk to and enter negotiations with Australian officials.
The social network said the officials “agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address [its] core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value [its] platform provides to publishers relative to the value [it] receive[s] from them.” One of those changes would require authorities to give tech companies a month’s notice before they are formally designated under the code. That would give the companies more time for negotiations. Facebook agreed to reverse its policy and roll back its news post ban before this coming weekend as a result.
Rod Sims, the regulator who drafted the code, said he was pleased with the changes. As Financial Times has noted, the government will appoint an arbitrator who can set the rates that need to be paid if negotiations between tech and media companies don’t work out. Frydenberg said the goal is to ensure media companies are “fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public-interest journalism in Australia.” Thus far, Google already signed agreements to pay for content from News Corp and Seven West Media outlets.